Welcome to another edition of my monthly income report!
Each month, I publish a highly detailed report where I share everything that's been going on in my online businesses. In addition to the lessons I've learned, I also include a breakdown of my online income and where it all comes from.
This helps me understand how my businesses are progressing (and it's not always in the positive direction), and it allows you to have an over-the-shoulder view of exactly what's going on. It is my hopes that you'll take not only inspiration from this report, but specific and actionable advice you can use to grow your own businesses too.
Let's not waste any more time. Here we go!
Goings-On in April
April was likely one of the busiest months of my entire life—at least since almost 7 years ago when I first entered the world of online business. Compared to the 90 to 100-hour weeks in the world of architecture (my previous career path) this was much easier—and a lot more fun too!
There were two big events happening in April, each coming with nearly a year of planning behind it. Those two events were:
- My opening keynote presentation at New Media Expo 2015 in Las Vegas (April 14th); and
- The 1-Day Business Breakthrough LIVE event that Chris Ducker and I were putting together (April 24th)
These were my primary focus points for April. Business-wise, nothing else mattered, and I made sure of it.
To clear my schedule for these events, I worked extremely hard in March to develop a queue of content for each The Smart Passive Income Blog, the Podcast, Ask Pat and SPI TV. This way, I made sure I had nothing else on my mind and I could use all of that extra time to rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse some more.
A lot of you know that I put a ton of time into my public speaking performances, having spent up to 250 hours preparing for one particular keynote at The Financial Blogger Conference in 2013 (the one where I purposefully tripped as I got onto the stage), but I must have spent twice as many hours preparing for my NMX keynote this year.
Because I had an entire year to plan, and I wanted to go big…
My NMX 2015 Opening Keynote Presentation
On stage at conferences, I've done everything I could to raise the bar each and every time. Last year at NMX, I performed magic (which I actually got formal training for), and this year I felt like I had to go as big as I could get.
Pyrotechnics was obviously out of the question, but this urge to go huge, combined with my nerdy background, gave me the notion to decided that I really wanted to enter the stage in a real-life Delorean time machine from Back to the Future, my all-time favorite movie. 2015 being the 30-year anniversary of the film, and the same year Marty and Doc travel to in Back to the Future Part II, it seemed like the perfect way to start the show.
This helped the presentation evolve into one related to time (naturally), so the concept became all about future-proofing your brand. How to build a business that lasts by examining the past, present and future of what works in business.
If that wasn't enough, I decided to add a little something into the presentation for continuity purposes that would happen even before I came out in a Delorean. I wrote a 3-minute script for a Back to the Future style film that involved me eventually getting into a Delorean, driving 88 miles per hour and then disappearing on screen. Then, I'd appear live at the conference in a Delorean.
I had no idea how this was going to come together, but luckily there are people that rent Deloreans (and yes, I actually got to drive one!), and I had a connection in Hollywood who hooked me up with a producer who put it all together. We filmed with over 30 people involved in the making, and it became the perfect way to start the show.
In case you haven't seen it already, here is that short film, followed by my arrival on stage and my full presentation at NMX 15 in Las Vegas:
It still feels like a dream that it all came together like it did.
Of course, it wasn't just me. I want to give a HUGE shout out to everyone who helped, especially the film crew who came out to Puente Hills Mall (yes, the same mall where they filmed Back to the Future in 1985) between 6:00pm and 3:00am the next day when we finally wrapped, and Mitchell Peck from Hollywood Embassy for his script help, support and connections.
Here is a behind the scenes look at the making of the short film, including some incredible acting from our Doc Brown look-alike:
Now, I know a lot of you are wondering about the total cost of what it took to put all of this together. In total, I spent about $15,000 on everything seen above, not including the Back to the Future clothing and hoverboard, which I already owned (naturally). I did, however, know I was going to get some help with the costs too, so it was not nearly as much out of my own pocket.
Although I did “lose” a little bit of money by doing it in this way, I know it'll come back to me in the long run. I plan to do bigger, higher-paying speaking gigs in the future, and this is a perfect lead-in into any of those conversations with potential conference directors. It's also eye-candy for those looking at a speaker reel.
I've already had 3 separate conferences reach out to me after hearing about this particular presentation, which is pretty cool.
1-Day Business Breakthrough LIVE!
The podcast that Chris Ducker and I host together that we launched only 4 months ago has been a smashing success, with over a quarter million downloads already. The numbers are great, but the results of the podcast listeners who enjoy the show is what I'm personally enjoying the most.
In fact, our most recent episode with Ron is one of our most talked about yet, and includes the biggest potential breakthrough thus far.
In addition to the podcast, we've been planning a big live event for quite a while—ever since we both spoke in Australia last year at Darren Rowse's Problogger Conference. Instead of our usual 20-person 1-Day private mastermind events, which we do whenever Chris is in the San Diego area, we decided to go much bigger this time.
Bigger is apparently the theme for April, hehe.
This time, we were going to rent out a much bigger space, double the number of attendees in the room and then open it up to the entire world to watch live over the Internet. Instead of just Chris and I, we had an entire team of people helping out this time. Plus, thanks to BoxCast (a new streaming service we were testing) it went off without a hitch.
The day was amazing with a sold out live audience, and we've heard nothing but positive feedback from the attendees—both in-person and on the web. We had even built a custom chat room feature that would allow online viewers to chat, connect and respond to polls and questions that we controlled on our end with live viewing of the results.
Chris and I had an absolute blast, and as always the best part is meeting amazing like-minded people who all have the same focus. Thank you to all of the attendees! You were amazing!
It was definitely much different than how we normally run this event, but it just shows that we keep evolving the concept of 1-Day Business Breakthrough and we definitely haven't finished yet. Stay tuned for more information on the next 1-Day Business Breakthrough event, which Chris and I are sorting out very soon.
In terms of earnings from this event, since Chris doesn't disclose his income on his site I wanted to respect that, so you will not see any income or expenses from this event in the income report breakdown below.
The only other major project that was being worked on in April was FoodTruckr.com. More specifically, this experimental niche site is nearly ready to launch product #2 the week of May 25th!
The first product, How to Start a Food Truck: The Definitive Guide, has done extremely well since launching in August of 2014, earning about $30,000 since launch.
The second product, which is targeted at those who have already started a food truck, is going to be a higher-priced premium guide for building a surviving and thriving food truck empire. I'm hoping to partner with other organizations that are involved in the life of a brand new food truck owner, such as food truck builders and Food Truck Associations to potentially get more guides in the hands of new food truck owners.
More on this coming soon after launch, but the biggest news is that after product #2 is launched is this: I will be scaling down the team's involvement on FoodTruckr.com in a major way. Currently, I have a person managing the social media pages, and another who is a researcher/writer – both who are doing fine jobs at putting it all together but are working quite a few hours right now, especially leading up to this launch.
Everyone is doing a great job and we've grown the site to become the #1 resource for all things food truck education, but I want to shift focus away from FoodTruckr.com for a few reasons:
- I'd like to spend more of the team's time on some big projects I have in the near future for Smart Passive Income.
- I'd like to clear some room in my brain for a totally new experiment, likely involving e-commerce and Amazon.com.
- I'd like to see what happens to the site if I were to just let it be for a while, similar to what I did with SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.com.
With that said, I'm not just going to cut off all work on the site the day after launch. In fact, I'm going to use this as a case study to determine how automated I can make the site in terms of the sales funnels that happen throughout, and I will likely use the platform to get my feet wet with paid advertising as well.
Now that there are two products, a couple lead magnets and a pretty cool free tool we built to audit a FoodTruckr's social media profiles, I should have all of the pieces I need to create a nice user experience and flow through the site, its offerings and the value chain.
Here are some quick stats to share with FoodTruckr you may find interesting:
Keyword rankings as of May 17th, 2015:
Google Webmaster Tools – Top 10 Keywords / Click-Through Rates / Positions (Last 90 Days)
And total traffic since the start of the site:
Over 1,000,000 pageviews! How awesome is that! Of course, I do realize that a number of visits come directly from people following this experiment on SPI, but that's okay. It's nice to see industry related keywords in the mix!
Alrighty—let's get down to the breakdown.
Full Disclosure: Some of the items in the list below are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase through that link, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.
Note: Items with an empty difference percentage were not present on the previous month's income report.
Expenses do not include pro-rated yearly fees. Most are related to the Smart Passive Income Blog and new projects that are currently under development.
A Big Lesson I Learned in April
One part of the income report that is continuing to climb is the sponsorship income from the podcasts. It cleared $25k this past month, which is an all-time record.
If you remember way back in Session 97 of The SPI Podcast, I invited John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneur on Fire onto the show to talk about sponsorships, because 96 episodes into my own podcast, I never had any sponsorships on my show. John has done very well with sponsorships since almost right after he started his show a few years ago.
I had always been reluctant to include sponsorships in my podcast because I didn't want to ruin the listener experience, but after listening to John, it was clear that it can be a win-win situation if and only if the sponsors align with the idea of providing value to the listeners. The services and companies who want to pay to sponsor your show must be helpful to your audience. If not, then you absolutely risk ruining the listener experience, and you'll eventually lose the sponsor anyway because conversions will be so low.
Now, about 16 months since my first sponsorship on the podcast, I've heard only 2 complaints from listeners about the sponsorships on either of my two SPI related podcasts. Two!
On the other hand, each week, I receive at least a dozen emails from listeners who thank me for mentioning a particular sponsor on the podcast. How awesome is that!?
It's just another example of how you can truly benefit from always thinking about how what you do helps can help your audience.
Audience first. Earnings to follow. Always.
Thanks so much for your on-going support, and here's to a killer rest of May, and to some momentum going into the summer months!